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Eurostat's Statistics Administration & Management (SAM) and SAM Editor-Viewer (SEV) form a toolset that is mainly used for the specific purposes of statistical time series multidimensional data processing, viewing, manipulations, derivation, multidimensional data error processing and validations.

These applications are wholly developed and owned by DG ESTAT. As a result no software licence is required from anybody (no licence costs). They are based on the following IT technologies:  Microsoft VB6 & C++, Oracle SQL and PL-SQL, MS-Access SQL and engine, and they work on Windows XP platform.

In addition to ESTAT users, these applications are used in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD/GDS) in Geneva and also in several statistical offices of the Mediterranean countries (9 countries).

Eurostat has provided SAM as stand alone versions to the Mediterranean partner countries free of charge but Eurostat will not be responsible for the maintenance or support of these installations nor for any damage.

The main strength of SAM & SEV is in their simplicity of learning curve. A 2 day course has been sufficient to allow a non-technical user to create complex Oracle databases, reading their data from structured text files, Excel, Access, Oracle into these databases. They can then establish various views into the multidimensional database, put simple validation rules and finally extract the data out. Another factor to consider is their relative low maintenance costs, high user satisfaction and flexibility.

In the Eurostat's version it also now integrates another, Java based, tool that is intended for sharing with NSIs, the EBB (Editing Building Block).

In general problems that have been encountered are the unavailability at Eurostat of resources to guarantee the support of these kind of applications; the distribution of versions, to be sure that everybody uses the same; the contrast between the need of having one approved version, centrally controlled and the need of NSIs to be able to modify the source to taylor the application to their needs.

In the case of EBB, Eurostat as a test distributed a closed version to NSIs, which could use it voluntarily for the validation of data in the AES and CVTS surveys. NSIs could just apply the tool without modifying the validation rules and the statistical unit was responsible for giving a limited support as the IT central unit could not assure it. Even if the results were positive, other units were not willing to assume the same role and the main version of the software was becoming too complex to distribute without proper support. A solution under implementation is then to create an environemnt at Eurostat where people from the NSIs can use the tool remotely, so avoiding problems linked to distribution and versioning.

Antonio Consoli - Eurostat